Great Pitching and One Very Long Hit

The Rainiers opened up the Nine Game Mega Series against Las Vegas with an extremely well-pitched 3-1 victory on Wednesday night.

Andrew Carraway made the start, and he was in complete command over the first six innings, allowing one run on four singles and a walk.

Carraway allowed the run in the top of the fourth inning – tying the game, 1-1 – and runners were at first and third with nobody out. He bore down and struck out Jack Cust before getting a double play grounder from Chris Woodward, escaping the jam. It was a nifty bit of pitching.

Bobby LaFromboise and Shawn Kelley combined to pitch scoreless relief over the final three innings.

Offensively, we nearly had a historic moment at Cheney Stadium.

Batting with one out in the fourth against Las Vegas starter Sean O’Sullivan, Luis Jimenez crushed a fly ball to straight-away center field. He came this close to becoming the third player to ever homer over the giant wall in center field during a game.

Jimenez’s ball hit about two feet from the top of the wall, in the upper-right corner near the edge by the flag pole. In my 14 years calling Rainiers games, I have never seen a ball hit off this portion of the wall before. It’s the closest I’ve seen someone come to going over it without actually doing it.

Luis settled for a triple, and in 53 years the only players to hit it over that wall during a game are still A.J. Zapp and Shin-Soo Choo. Choo’s was severely wind-aided – there was no wind last night, I think Jimenez’s would have gone over with a little help from the elements.

It’s well-known in the PCL how hard it is to go over the giant wall in Tacoma. When Jimenez came close, I wrote about it on Twitter – and among those to reply was A’s pitcher Travis Blackley, saying “I was there when Zapp did it – didn’t he hit it off Blanton?” Yup, Zapp hit his off Joe Blanton, who was able to shake it off and have a long Major League career.

It was a nice little reminder about how much fun it is to go to the ballpark every day. I mean, here we are, rolling along roughly 20 games under .500, closing out one of the most dismal Tacoma seasons in memory… and Jimenez come 24 inches away from adding his name to a historic list. That’s why it is fun.

Alright, maybe this season won’t actually end up all that dismal. The Rainiers have won four of the last five games, pulling up to 57-75. Maybe they’ll finish hot! Going 8-4 over the last 12 games and avoiding 80 losses would be something to be proud of, all things considered.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, and the broadcast airs on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Hector Noesi (1-4, 5.87) against Las Vegas RHP Shawn Hill (8-1, 4.83). This is Noesi’s first start since his no-hit bid against Reno was broken up with two outs in the eighth inning.

Links:

  • The Rainiers game story was inked by Don Ruiz. He has quotes from Luis Jimenez about his near-miss to center, and… his walk-up music. Hey, it is a good song.
  • Here is the video of Jimenez’s blast off the wall – unfortunately you can’t see where it hits the wall, only where it bounces down. But you do get to see the swing.
  • Eric Thames – who was with Las Vegas earlier this season – had the game-winning hit for the Mariners in their eighth straight win yesterday.
  • In this notebook there is a bunch of garbage about pie-throwing, but then an update on Franklin Gutierrez.
  • Dustin Ackley is playing good defense.
  • Great blog post from Larry Stone about Michael Saunders getting hit by a pitch for his first time as a big leaguer.
  • Whoops! Both the Seattle Times and The News Tribune pulled their Mariners road coverage and aren’t on the current road trip. Guess they didn’t see this hot streak coming.
  • The esteemed Dave Cameron writes about what a Felix Hernandez contract extension would look like.
  • In the PCL, Trevor Bauer pitched well for Pac-North leading Reno, but the Aces lost in the late innings to Fresno, 5-3.
  • Colorado Springs attempt to gain on Reno was on hold due to travel problems: the Sky Sox connecting flight through Las Vegas was held up due to weather problems. They will make it up in a Friday doubleheader.
  • Salt Lake missed out on a gaining opportunity, dropping a 9-4 decision at Sacramento. The River Cats “magic number” to clinch the Pac-South over Las Vegas is down to six.
  • In the American-South, first place Albuquerque lost at Memphis in ten innings, 2-1, on a bases-loaded walk. New Orleans picked up a game and pulled within three by winning at Omaha, 8-6.
  • The Iowa Cubs received Adrian Cardenas from the big club, but they still lost to Oklahoma City.
  • Round Rock picked up an extra-innings win over Nashville as Leonys Martin had five hits.

If you don’t already have tickets for the weekend games, you better come out tonight – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday’s games are all sold out. Hey, it’s our last Tasty Thursday tonight, so come out and enjoy it!

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